SWEETWATER COUNTY — A Sweetwater County legislator is making another push to legalize hemp extract in Wyoming.
Rep. Stan Blake, D-Green River, is the main sponsor behind House Bill 100, which was introduced into the House on Thursday.
The measure would allow residents 18 years old and older to possess or use hemp extract, which comes from the marijuana/hemp plant. It would also eliminate registration requirements and authorizes a parent or legal guardian to administer the extract to a minor or vulnerable adult.
Blake introduced two bills related to hemp in 2018. One was the same measure he is sponsoring, House Bill 64, which died in the Senate. The other, House Bill 62, would have provided for the administration of hemp extract by a parent to an adult dependent and modified physician authorization required to administer the product. The House did not consider it for an introduction vote.
Blake decided to make another run to legalize the product because it helps people.
“They use it for migraines, arthritis, seizure control, etc., etc.,” he said. “CBD (cannabinoids) oil is harmless and it benefits some people. I believe that as a citizen of the United States we should have the ability to run our lives without the government always telling us what is good for us. In the case of CBD oil, it is beneficial and should be available without being concerned about getting arrested. We are talking three-tenths percent and less of THC content. It doesn’t get you high.”
Other sponsors to sign onto HB 100 include Reps. John Freeman, D-Green River, Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, Bunky Loucks, R-Casper, Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, Charles Pelkey, D-Laramie, Garry Piiparinen, R-Evanston, and Jim Roscoe, I-Wilson; and Sens. Cale Case, R-Lander, Mike Gierau, D-Jackson, Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, and Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston.
“Many people say that they find medical relief using the extract,” Freeman said. “In my opinion, if the extract provides relief and contains no significant narcotic, people should have access to it. The hemp extract should contain no THC, which recreational marijuana users are looking for.
“This summer, a Wyoming police department found trace elements of THC in some hemp extract and confiscated the entire inventory. The amounts found wouldn’t get anyone high. This bill protects both users and suppliers of hemp extract.”
Other local legislators said they support the measure.
“People should not have to worry about prosecution for possession of something that appears to help them cope with health issues,” said Rep. Tom Crank, R-Kemmerer. “We can all use the discussion to get better educated on just what it is and what issues and benefits are associated with it.”
Sen. Fred Baldwin, R-Kemmerer, said he is of the opinion that hemp extract has many beneficial uses, “and we need to move ahead with this legislation as well as other bills capturing the beneficial medical and other uses of hemp and hemp extract.”
“The time has come to look ahead and move forward as research continues on safe and beneficial uses of hemp and other substances,” he said.
Wyoming Department of Health Public Information Officer Kim Deti said there are some potential health concerns related to hemp extract including a lack of data on the safety of long-term use and an increased possibility of drug interactions without the monitoring of a physician.
Rep. JoAnn Dayton-Selman, D-Rock Springs, said she hopes the measure will be considered during the session, but “one thing is for sure, it will provide a robust floor debate.”
Blake said he thinks other hemp and/or marijuana bills will be coming out soon and that he will “probably support them as well.”
If HB 100 becomes law, the Department of Health would eliminate its current hemp extract registry, but “other specific actions are really more of a law enforcement question,” Deti said.
Attempts to reach the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, Rock Springs and Green River police departments were made, but no one responded as of press time.